goodbye, May! #mayreboot

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Well, May is done and so it’s time to check in with the goals I had for my “reboot”. Here they are, with my commentary:

1. Exercise (more and better) I can’t give myself a particularly high score here, but I do think I’ve made progress. Just having this as a goal in my mind has, for example, encouraged me to take the stairs more often at work (I used to avoid them because the stairwell is super smelly, and it still is smelly, but I do like the way I feel after I’ve walked up 3 flights of stairs). I’ve gone on lots of long walks (a favorite is to walk from my house to the Cobbs Hill reservoir, then around it, then home), though there have also been plenty of days where, for whatever reason, I’ve been totally sedentary.

Took a walk around Cobbs Hill and my neighborhood as a grading break. So grateful for the beautiful weather today!

Some of this I couldn’t do a thing about (e.g. the days I was stuck in the car on our drive to and from Ohio), but some, I could’ve. And on that front, we’ve decided to join the Y, which I’m hoping will make it easier for me to get exercise even on days where circumstances conspire against me, since the local branch is less than a mile from our house. I’m dropping my membership at the campus gym (the pool hours are just stupid awful there, and when I’m trying to exercise during my time at work, it means I’m bringing work home, and I’d rather “bring home” exercise than work) so that I’m not double-paying for gym/pool access, and belonging to the Y makes sense because it will save us money on swim lessons for M. So…progress. Hoping to keep improving throughout June.

2. Eat better Well, this certainly wasn’t the case during our trip to OH, during which every single meal was eaten out – my guts still haven’t really recovered from eating that way! But I have discovered a new salad dressing from Wegmans that I really like (“Spicy Citrus Ginger” or something like that) and have brought salads back into my diet, and that’s something. Again, hoping to keep improving throughout June.

Mmmm, salad. #mayreboot

3. Sleep better Oh my goodness have I ever NOT made progress on this one. Summer is kind of brutal for both M and me on the sleep front, because daylight hours overlap with the hours we’d like to be sleeping, and it just messes us up because we are both intensely daylight-sensitive. Add to this a messed up neck/shoulder, and I’ve been a disaster on the sleep front this month. I’ll try again in June.

4. Make things Yes! I cast on for a Little Wave cardigan for me, and I’m just about done with the second sleeve, so soon I’ll have a new cardigan! (You know, just in time for it be in the 80s every day).

The best thing about her being able to get and keep herself going on the swings? I can knit instead of pushing!

I’ve unearthed some of my other craft supplies (embroidery stuff, and watercolors, though I need paper), but have not yet made any other projects a reality, but I’m really happy to be knitting a sweater for me again…it’s the first time I’ve done this since just after M was born! In June, I hope to do some watercolor and embroidery, too. I’d also really like to get my sewing machine fixed up so that I can sew a Dress No. 1.

5. Make music Here, I can give myself all the gold stars! I’ve been playing my violin nearly every day (mostly Bach solo stuff), and succeeding at connecting with people for music-making; a friend of mine at church is a fellow violinist, and we will be getting together this summer to play the Bach double together and I’m very excited about it! I’ll also be playing in the orchestra this Sunday at my church’s special choir service. I’ve not played in an orchestra since I was 8 months pregnant with M, and I can’t wait! I definitely want to keep this going through June.

I got to play for over an hour today! I'm a happy lady :)

6. Clean up Hahahahahaha. Total fail, here. I…still don’t even know where to start. And our yard is in worse shape than I thought at the beginning of May, and it all kind of makes me feel hopeless. I’m definitely open to any and all advice as concerns decluttering and cleaning a house, and managing a yard that is overgrown with highly invasive, virtually unkillable weeds.

7. Be a good friend I’m not sure I can really judge this one, but I have definitely aimed to be mindful about maintaining the friendships that I have.

8. Read good stuff I’m doing great here. I recently read a collection of short stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who is possibly my very favorite author at the moment. This followed Octavia Butler’s “Lilith’s Brood”, which was AMAZING! And I also read Naomi Novik’s “Uprooted”, which I ended up liking quite a bit, though it took awhile to grow on me. You can follow me on Goodreads if you want! I’m not always great about writing reviews of the things I read but I’m pretty good about logging them, at least.

9. Write I actually just wrote a long piece of reflective writing yesterday, which I posted on Medium because it didn’t feel right to post it on my knitting blog. You can find it here. I was a little scared to post it in a public place like Medium – not that my knitting blog *isn’t* public, but I feel like I have a sense of who is reading this thing, at least. But hey, it’s out there now.

10. Be patient and present with M Oh boy. Some days this has been great, and others, less so. It doesn’t help that I’m reflecting on this right after traveling with her, when travel does not turn either M or me into our best selves. But I think I’m actually doing pretty well here.

I'm so glad I get to be this kid's mama!

So that wraps things up for the #mayreboot check-in. Overall, I wouldn’t give myself a particular high “score” on my progress, but I’m glad to have had these goals in mind, and I think it has been helping me to shift my focus and priorities a bit. So I’ll hang on to them through June and see where it takes me.

hello, may! #mayreboot

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Pretty tulip on a rainy day.

 

What a cold and dreary start we’re off to this May! But May, for me, is a magical month. Well, really, it’s more like mid-May through mid-June that’s magical…by then I’m done grading, but M’s still in school, so I have time to catch up on things and even maybe relax a little bit. It’s also magical because everything is springing back to life during that time, and it’s just so lovely to be able to spend time outside, enjoying the flowers (even though they make me sneeze), making my clumsy efforts towards establishing a garden, just going on aimless walks through Highland Park, that sort of stuff. There’s a pretty real sense in which May is the month for “rebooting” after a busy year of teaching. This year I’ve ended up feeling really depleted – my usual “February funk”/seasonal depression hung around through March and I feel like I’m just ending Spring semester on empty, though my classes all went very well and my students seem to have grown a lot and all that good stuff. I definitely need a reboot.

Along with a few friends of mine, I’m going to follow Wil Wheaton’s lead on this idea of “rebooting”, and use May as a time to think about the way I’d like my life to be and actually set to work making it that way. My hope is that if I can get into good habits this summer, I’ll be able to carry them over into next year even during the school year, where so far (in my two years of being full-time faculty) I’ve had a relatively low success rate in terms of maintaining healthy habits throughout the entire year. With this in mind, here are my goals for my “May Reboot”.

First, the tl;dr version:
1. Exercise (more and better)
2. Eat better
3. Sleep better
4. Make things
5. Make music
6. Clean up
7. Be a good friend
8. Read good stuff
9. Write
10. Be present and patient with M

But for more on WHY these 10 things, see below:

1. Exercise (more and better): for various reasons (schedule challenges, sickness, and depression) I’ve gotten out of my good exercise habits this semester. I’m not a happy person when I’m sedentary, and vice versa. Lack of exercise is both a symptom and result of depression for me – these things feed into each other like a vicious cycle. Exercise has been hard for me since I had to give up running (and all high-impact stuff) because of my connective tissue disease, but that’s nearly a decade ago now, so c’mon, self. I’m not sure whether or not gym/pool exercise is a thing that makes sense now that the semester is over (I don’t really want to go into campus JUST for that!), but I definitely want to do a LOT more walking. I’m not sure what to aim for in terms of steps/mileage. Maybe at least 5k/day? And I want to get back to strength and flexibility work – push-ups, sit-ups, the mix of yoga/Pilates stuff that I used to do. I’ve gotten very strong carrying M around (she’s ~45lbs at this point!), but she’s getting to an age where that’s going to be completely out of the picture soon, so I need to maintain this strength somehow! Make time for it, self! If I can somehow combine this with podcast-listening, that’d be awesome, because I’ve got quite a backlog of Radiolab and OnBeing and others I’d like to try.

2. Eat better: I’ve gotten into a rut with food, and in particular, I’m not eating as many veggies as I do when I’m happiest and healthiest. So, eat more veggies, and more variety, period. Get back to some sort of meal planning.

3. Sleep better: I had successfully weaned myself off Unisom at the beginning of Spring Semester, but then the time change came around and messed everything up and I’m back to it. Insomnia is a huge problem for me, and my biggest problem is that I just don’t know how to fall asleep (this is what the Unisom helps with). My mind won’t shut off, no matter how tired I am. I used to be dependent on falling asleep while A watched TV (but only if he watched something that wasn’t too interesting to me or too scary, which limited his choices a lot and also just isn’t fair to him – he and his TV-viewing habits can’t be my sleep crutch). Then I switched to being dependent on unisom, when trying to get my sleep back to something resembling normal after the havoc M wreaked with her first two years of nighttime issues (and these still persist on occasion, which is part of the problem). I don’t want to be dependent on Unisom forever (for a lot of reasons – it seems to be in the list of meds that can contribute to Alzheimer’s, for one), so I need to work on developing a better strategy for falling asleep. This will probably be the hardest goal, and also the most likely to backfire if I put pressure on myself about it, so I need to remember to tread lightly and be kind to myself here.

4. Make things: I’m a maker. I’m happiest when I can be creative and actually make things. When I’m depressed, that part of me shuts down – at least, the will to actually MAKE things does. Unless I’m severely depressed (like when I was dealing with PPD a few years ago), I don’t usually completely stop coming up with ideas, but the problem is that I end up with my head in the clouds, dreaming things up but not following through, and this is a very unsatisfying place for me. I’ve been in that place a lot lately with knitting (designs of my own and other people’s patterns that would work well with my stash yarn), sewing, embroidery, and watercolor art ideas and I need to just DO them already.

5. Make music: I’ve gotten reconnected with music quite a bit this year through M’s Suzuki violin stuff at Hochstein, and being her at-home violin teacher. This has been great but also kind of painful to me, to be this close to music again but not really making it myself. I have a lovely violin (which I should probably take in for a tuneup; at the very least, my bows need to be rehaired, and I maybe need new strings, too), so I should PLAY it. Maybe I can work through some more of the Bach solo stuff this summer. I should also revisit my old etude and scale books, because I’m rusty. Maybe I can also ask about playing at church sometime?

6. Clean up: our house and yard are such freaking disasters! Seriously, we weren’t doing great on this front before M came into our lives and we’ve gotten WORSE since then and it’s BAD. I don’t even know where to start here. I’ll give myself one concrete goal: tackle my clothes situation, konmari-style. And clear out the things that don’t fit M anymore. Decluttering and cleaning on a larger scale HAS to start though!

7. Be a good friend: I have such great people in my life right now and I need to remember to make maintaining these friendships a priority.

So that I end up with a nice even “10”, I’ll add these 3 things I’m already doing and want to maintain:
8. Read good stuff: I love my Kindle Paperwhite! I’ve got a Lightspeed magazine subscription on it (which I got on Wil Wheaton’s recommendation awhile back), which means I’ve always got good sci-if/fantasy short stories, and I also check things out from the library regularly. I also read the things posted on Aeon, Nautilus, Brainpickings, and OnBeing regularly – I get so much from all of these sites.

9. Write: I used to write almost incessantly in my livejournal, and while I think it’s actually for the better that I let that journal die (in that mostly-private space, it was too easy to wallow in a whiny, resentful, self-loathing headspace – I’m actually someone who’s much healthier when I do my reflective writing “in public”, so to speak), I do miss regularly doing reflective writing. I’ve been doing some of this on Facebook and some here on this blog in the past year or so and I want to keep it up.

10. Be present and patient with M: I’ve been learning a lot about how to be a good support person for M given the SPD issues she has, and I think I’m doing great here, but I definitely need a reminder to keep it up, because parenting my intense, awesome SPD kid is HARD! Summer will give us lots of time to connect and have fun together – beach trips, playground walks, gardening, biking…I hope to make this great time together.

And to reward you for making it all the way to the end of this post, here’s another shot of that tulip!

This tulip is different from the other ones - all spiky!

 

oh, right, i have a blog

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Didn’t mean to go so long without posting, but the back half of Spring semester’s been a mess of sickness and learning more about sensory processing disorder so that I can be a better mama for M, on top of the usual business of teaching and workshop-leading. But hey, do you want to see what one of those “backlit lace” swatches turned into?

One of my oldest friends (we met in 5th grade!) is now a father, and I knit this wee maple-leaf cardigan for his little girl. Now M wants one in her size! Maybe I'll write a pattern :)

A wee-tiny maple leaf cardigan! One of my oldest friends (we met in 5th grade) became a father back in February, and I knit this tiny sweater for his little girl. Here’s what the front looks like:

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I knit it from the top down, and instead of putting maple leaves all around the yoke like I did for Vahtralehed, I knit a single one centered in the back (this works quite well top-down, since the maple-leaf is taller than the yoke depth in the wee tiny baby sizes), and put the nupp-eyelet edging around all of the edges. It turned out really, really pretty, and now M wants one in her size, and I’ve got the Beaverslide Sport/Sock yarn to do that for her. I may use some of my time this summer to write up a pattern for it; it might even be fun to work up a top-down “Vahtralehed light” cardigan in sport weight for grown-ups, too. We’ll see.

Speaking of M wanting sweaters in her size, she saw me wearing my Bohus Yoke pullover a little while back and begged me to knit her one just like it. It turns out I still had leftovers from the original (which was knit 8.5 years ago!), so I dug them out and started knitting on the very day she made her request. Kiddo doesn’t know how lucky she is! I’ve been knitting on it here and there, and got a good amount of sleeve-knitting done on the last day we had playground-worthy weather (it has been a rollercoaster of a Spring here!):

Knitting a sleeve at the playground - FINALLY it is warm enough!!

It’s so funny to knit a mini-version of a sweater you still wear fairly regularly. I’m excited to be twinsies with M soon, though of course I’m going to finish this sweater just as it finally decides to STAY warm. I’m aiming big on the sizing in hopes that it will fit her in the fall.

It occurred to me recently that though I’ve knit many sweaters for M in the past 4 years, I’ve not knit a single sweater for myself since M was born, besides the blue garter rib cardigan that I started while pregnant with her and ended up lightly felting into a jacket because I’d made it so big. And I finished that one back when M was an infant. I can’t complain about the reception the sweaters I’ve knit for M have gotten…she wears them all the time:

Getting Happy Birthday wishes from my darling Superhero Santa girl. Hello, 33! I'm excited to be a multiple of 11 because those are fun numbers :)

And she’s a very appreciative recipient:

My favorite smile in the whole wide world.

But I want more sweaters for ME! So that’s a big part of my plan for the summer. I’m very much in a “use what I have” sort of mood with knitting – I’ve got the yarn for quite a few me-sized sweaters, and I’d rather have that yarn taking up space AS sweaters than as skeins. There are plenty of projects I’d like to make that would require new yarn, but I want to focus, at least for a little while, on working up the stuff I have (or getting rid of the stuff it turns out I have no interest in working up) because my stash is kind of crazy. This does put a little bit of a cramp on my ideas regarding sweater designs (because who wants to knit a sweater whose sample was knit up in decades-old stash yarn?), but let’s be honest, I’m not really a designer. Though my head is full of plenty of design ideas, I just…don’t have the entrepreneurial sense (or the time, frankly, given my full-time academic job). Which isn’t to say I’ve given up on my plans to put patterns out for some of the things I’ve knit (the garter rib cardigan for wee ones and grown-ups, the garter-edged hat and mitten sets, the top-down Stripes! cardigans…just to name the most obvious ones, the ones that have been waiting for literally years). I haven’t. I just can’t really figure out how to make those things happen alongside everything else. Perhaps I’ll get a clearer sense of the path forward once I’ve finished grading all of these portfolios and have some time to rest now that classes are finished for the semester.

snapshots: backlit lace

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I took advantage of the glorious sunshine that accompanied our frigid temperatures this weekend to take photos of a couple of lacy projects against our upstairs window. First, a swatch for a top-down version of my Vahtralehed pattern, in Beaverslide 2-ply Sport/Sock weight:

Swatching a top-down maple leaf nupp+lace motif in Beaverslide 2ply Sport/Sock.

I’m hoping to work up a wee baby cardigan with a single maple leaf running down the back, and perhaps a lace-version of those little maple-seed “helicopters” around the yoke, and then size it up to M’s size before writing it as a kids’ pattern. So far, turning the maple leaf upside-down (relative to how it was knit in the original Vahtralehed sweater) is working out fine, though (as in Vahtralehed) I do have a slight problem with the gauge expanding quite a bit from the yarn-overs, and I’m definitely open to advice on that front – are there good strategies out there for keeping the YOs small when they’re paired with directional decreases?

The second project is a new one for me – an Imogen Cowl in BFMA BFL Fingering (in the old 500yd, non-superwash put-up), in “Icy Wintergreen Awesomesauce”, which is pretty much the best color name ever. It’s going to be beautiful, I think!

I cast on for an Imogen Cowl yesterday. Using BMFA BFL fingering (in old, non-superwash put-up) in "Icy Wintergreen Awesomesauce". It's gonna be great!

The lace pattern is actually quite easy to memorize and read off the knitting, but it does require that I pay attention on every single row, so we’ll see how much progress I’m able to make on this. I’m loving my Sculling Cowl so much as a neck warming-and-adornment device that I’m really excited about the idea of another infinity-scarf style cowl!

things i make for maddy: Red Stripe Pocket Pullover!

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Finished sweater alert!

Should've made the sleeves a bit longer, too!

Last weekend, I wove in the ends on M’s new Red Stripe Pullover (with Pockets!), and had planned to block it immediately, but SOMEONE was so excited about her new sweater that she put it on immediately…

We're making a white pizza for M's sake this week (she's very opposed to tomato sauce, but we're very opposed to not having Homemade Pizza Saturdays.)
Showing off her new sweater while helping out on Pizza Saturday

…and proceeded to wear it for the next 5 straight days, including Monday, when she came along with me to Knitting Guild, to show off her new knitting skills to my table full of friends!

Maddy came to Knitting Guild with me! She showed off her knitting skills to my friends, and was very patient waiting her turn for "show and tell" in front of the whole guild (we showed off her new sweater!) It's so neat to share these special parts of my

She also came up to the front with me to show off her new sweater during “Show and Tell”, which was very fun. That’s actually what prompted her to ask if she could come with me – I mentioned wanting to show off her sweater during “Show and Tell”, and this kid is SO excited about “Show and Tell” at her school that she couldn’t bear the thought of missing a “Show and Tell”, so she said she’d help me. We weren’t able to stay for very long (because Guild goes past her bedtime), and I didn’t actually get to knit at all, but it was so wonderful to share this special part of my life with her!

Stripe-ladies!

I’m so pleased with how it turned out, though if I knit another (which I might, because I do kinda want to write a pattern for this, and some parts were sort of “fly by the seat of my pantsish” for this prototype version), there are a few things I’d change…I didn’t quite get the shoulder width right, and I think the armholes should’ve been one “stripe-repeat” longer for a somewhat roomier fit to match the roomy fit I was aiming for (and achieved) in the body. I’d probably make the split hem (see below) even longer in back. I also did not make the pockets big enough, as M demonstrates below:

Abusing her pockets (which I should've made bigger!)

But hey, for a prototype, it’s pretty great, and I kinda want to make one for myself, though I’m undecided as to whether I’d make a me-sized version in Sport Weight or if I’d go up to Worsted Weight to get a similar “scale” to the stitches relative to my size. Here are some detail shots…

Set-in sleeve detail.
Set-in sleeve, seamlessly knit from top-down following Elizabeth Doherty’s approach

Hem detail.
Split garter stitch hem with contrast-color i-cord edging; longer in back than front

Cuff-detail.
Similar detailing at the cuffs – dark red garter cuffs with pink i-cord edging

Neckline detail.
Neckline detail: garter stitch, with short-rows, and a contrast tubular bind-off

I’m most proud of that last detail, because I struggling to figure out a way to mirror the contrasting i-cord edges that I’d used at the cuffs and hem, but knew I couldn’t just use i-cord (because pullover collars need to be stretchy!). I decided, once I’d finished the dark red garter, to join the light pink and set up a 1×1 rib tubular bind-off, and it worked beautifully! A nice contrast edge, but with all the stretch M could ever need.

Beautiful girl in her new sweater.

I’m a lucky mama knitter to have a kid who is so enthusiastic about wearing all the woolen goodies I make for her!

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: created in collaboration with M, though I used Elizabeth’s Doherty’s “Top Down” book for technique advice
Yarn: Beaverslide Dry Goods 2-ply Sport/Sock, less than 1 skein each in “Winter Rosehip” and “Hollyhock Heather”
Needles: size 4 (circulars and DPNs)
Time to Knit: a little over a month

things i make for me: sculling cowl

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Wrapped three times. So light and warm. Very happy to add to my "neck adornment" collection, especially with this perfect deep pink color (the only pink I wear, but I wear a fair amount of it!)

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Sculling Cowl by Anne Hanson
Yarn: Fibre Company Meadow in “Cosmos”
Needles: Size 5 Knitpicks circulars
Time to knit: Not actually that long (a couple of weeks), but then I had to pick out the cast on AND the original bind off to bind both off more loosely and that took me nearly as long as knitting the cowl did!)

I’ve been on a bit of a mission to add to my collection of “neck adornment” pieces. I get cold easily, and I love being able to wrap a shawl or a cowl around my neck/shoulders for a bit of extra warmth and color in the cooler months. One color that I wear quite a bit as an accent color is deep, dark pink – I’m really not much of a pink person except for this particular pink (because as a pale strawberry-blondish person with pinkish skintones, “regular” pink is absolutely hideous looking on me)! I knew I wanted a cowl in this color, but it took me awhile to find the perfect yarn; everything was either too far into the purple (I mean, I like purple a lot, but it wasn’t what I was aiming for here!), or not deep enough pink, too harsh looking…just something. The Fibre Company Meadow yarn in “Cosmos” turned out to be perfect!

cowl-in-progress

I enjoyed knitting with it, though it was a bit “stiffer” than I’m accustomed to, given all of the plant fiber content. I don’t normally knit with plant fibers, as my hands get sore when I knit with yarn that has no bounce/elasticity (I’m a wool girl all the way!), but the Meadow blend was pretty nice, and at loose lace gauge, it wasn’t too bothersome for my hands. I did have one problem that I think was a direct result of the yarn, though, and that was my cast-on. I used a Twisted German Cast-On, which for me is normally quite stretchy, but it turns out that for me at least, doing a Twisted German Cast-On with fine, inelastic yarn being knit at a loose gauge resulted in a cast-on that was simply WAY too tight. You can kind of see how it pulled in on one side in this picture:

Cat meets Cowl.

Since there’s no point finishing a project if it’s not going to be wearable, I set about picking out that cast on stitch by stitch so that I could bind it off loosely. With over 300 sts, each with a twist around their base (because that’s how the Twisted German Cast-On works), this was…tedious. It took a very long time.

Picking out a Twisted German Cast-On stitch-by-stitch is...tedious. But I want this cowl to be wearable, so.

I then bound off incredibly loosely. And then realized that now my new, very flexible bound off edge was looser than the other bound-off edge. You can probably guess where I’m going, here…I picked out the old bind-off stitch by stitch (which was at least much easier than picking out the cast-on!), and re-bound off, very loosely, to get an edge that matched the one I’d just created. All told, I spent nearly as much time fixing the cast-on and bind-off edges of this cowl than I did knitting the whole thing! Oh well. It’s all worth it, for the finished project.

Finally finished and blocked! It's so light!

I think the Sculling Cowl pattern is great – very easy to memorize, and it looks quite pretty. But if you want to make one, I’d highly recommend doing some sort of provisional cast-on, so that you can do matching bind-offs on both edges of the cowl. It’s such a long cast-on/bind-off edge that you have to be very careful to keep your gauge loose. (This might not be such a problem with a bouncy wool blend, but I can’t say for sure!). I think that if I knit another infinity-scarf cowl, I’ll try one that’s knit long and then grafted together, just to get a break from the super-long cast-on/bind-off business…perhaps the Imogen Cowl would be a good one! We’ll see!

work-in-progress: M’s red stripe pullover

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One thing I’ve always liked to do on this blog is to share more of the “behind the scenes” work of creating knits. It’s maybe not the smartest thing to do if my desire is to publish patterns, because the more I say about how I’m putting things together here, the less likely it is that anyone will feel the need to actually BUY a pattern, but it’s just how I roll…I’m a teacher at heart. (And honestly, it’s a bit goofy of me to take pattern publication/designer status into account given that I’ve not managed to actually put out a pattern since M was born!)

So anyway, here’s the current work-in-progress: M’s red stripe pullover:

Makin' a set-in sleeve, top-down.

I was able to spend some time yesterday morning reading through the “Top Down” book, and then creating the sleeve cap of the first sleeve. I’m pretty tickled with how nice it looks! And I think it’s going to be a nice fit on M, though I need to get her to try it on for me to be sure of that.

Before the sleeve, I finished the body with a split garter hem, slightly longer in back than in front (much like the hem I put on M’s Cobbler vest, which she recently rediscovered and then wore for 4 straight days!). I edged the garter stitch with the contrast-color, which I think looks really neat:

Taking a work-break for some contrast-color i-cord bind-off action.

I also want to show off the pockets, which are knit-in; I knit 2 stockinette flaps (for two pockets), each with a purled stitch 1 stitch in from the edge on each side, in the contrast color, then cast on new stitches and continued the body in the round. I then used that purl stitch (which is a very easy-to-spot knit stitch on the wrong side!) as a guide for picking up and knitting together with the body stitches until I got to the bottom of the flap, which was knit into the body.

Peeking into the pocket.

It looks pretty spiffy from the wrong side, too:

Pocket wrong-side. It's a flap that's knit in along the edges.

While I was working on the body, the #Loop2Loop hashtag was going around Instagram, so I took a video of how I knit. (You’ll have to follow the link to see it – I can’t figure out how to embed it here – I think because my Instagram is private, it won’t actually do an embed? Maybe I should make a public Instagram account for my knit blog/design stuff anyway?) Anyway, here’s how I hold my yarn:

Since you can't really see this in the video due to the angle, here's how I hold the yarn in my left hand: tensioned over my ring finger, kinda hooked under my middle finger, then I use my pointer+thumb to guide the yarn around the needle.

It’s a goofy pseudo-lefty style, where I tension the yarn over my left ring finger, then kind of hook it with my left middle finger, then use my pointer and thumb to loop it over the needle. Sounds kind of inefficient, but if you watch the video, you’ll see that I’m actually pretty darned fast! The exception to that is colorwork. It’s not that I can’t do it, but it definitely kills my speed, because I *cannot* do two-handed knitting. My right hand is just like, “NOPE.” when it comes to doing any sort of yarn manipulation (and believe me, I have TRIED!). So instead I do the same basic technique, but end up basically carrying one yarn hooked with my pointer and the other hooked with my middle finger. I envy the folks I’ve seen who can carry one yarn in each hand and zip through colorwork that way, but despite lots of trying, I’m just not one. For an ostensibly right-handed person (in that I write with my write hand), my right hand is awfully useless. I don’t know if it’s all the violin training, or if I really truly am an unbalanced ambidextrous person (I suspect both, actually), but for fine-motor stuff, with the exception of writing, I’m lefty all the way.